Video of testifier's anti-gay words goes viral, but there's more to the story
A video of a woman testifying against the anti-discrimination ordinance at the Lincoln City Council this week went viral, but her family says she is diagnosed with schizophrenia and shouldn't be taken seriously.
Jane Svoboda, 52, made several bizarre and disjointed statements during her five minutes of testimony at Monday's meeting.
"A huge percent of gay men in school grounds molest boys, partly because they don't have AIDS yet," she said.
"Whitney Houston was found without clothes in a bathtub. Every corpse found without clothes has a partner who did away with them.
"Hillary Clinton's roommate four years in college was a gay woman. To avoid going gay like Clinton did, college students need single rooms and single gender dorms."
The Huffington Post, MSNBC and popular sites such as Gawker and Reddit published the video and stories Friday with little context and Svoboda's name misspelled. The stories garnered more than 100,000 views.
The HuffPo's post got more than 1,000 comments, many responding to what viewers saw as hate speech. Many seemed to not recognize Svoboda's mental illness.
Svoboda lives at an assisted-living facility in Lincoln and is listed as a protected person, according to court documents. Her brother, Patrick Svoboda of Ogallala, is her conservator because she is incompetent, the documents say.
He was unaware of the video's popularity, but wasn't surprised -- he knew it would be a matter of time before she got in trouble somewhere.
He said he's disappointed the video garnered such attention and jokes without the whole story.
"To me, it shows how little society really cares about people with mental health issues," Patrick Svoboda said. "She does have a very tender heart ... but anything she says is certifiably schizophrenic ... she's not some crazy conservative."
He said her family has tried to get her help multiple times, but unless she harms herself or others, there's not much more they can do.
It wasn't the first time Svoboda has testified before the council. She also is a registered lobbyist at the Capitol.
She usually speaks twice a month during the council's open mic sessions, where citizens can talk for up to five minutes on any topic. The council sits patiently until she is done.
Svoboda has talked about Chinese "subliminals" that come through cellphones and other electronics, paradise on earth and family members being killed by doctors.
She once brought in a large stick figure that she said was her mother's ghost, but the council told her not to bring in props anymore.
She's also well-known on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus, where she's handed out thousands of fliers.
Students have dubbed her "Crazy Blue Protesting Lady" because of the blue coat she often wears. A Facebook page about her has nearly 3,000 members.
"I think this whole thing just reflects on the general society," Patrick Svoboda said. He said mentally ill people have rights unless they are trying to hurt themselves or others.